Chile has not been to the World Cup since 1998, but a renaissance is in progress and this is a hot team. La Roja has the talent to score early and often. The team had a relatively easy time qualifying. Will they continue their winning ways against the best in the world in South Africa?
Team: La Roja
Colors: Red and white
Formation: 3-3-1-3 or 3-4-3
During qualifications, La Roja (The Red) allowed more goals (22) than any other South American team, but they still found ways to win, making head coach Marcelo Bielsa look like a genius. Their attitude seems to be, “If we score more goals than our opponents, it doesn’t matter how many we let in.”
With only three true defenders, it’s no surprise they get scored on a lot. This team likes to attack, and defense is not their top priority. Will they be able to stop the Spaniards, Hondurans and Swiss from scoring at will? Probably not.
Key Players: Claudio Bravo, Alexis Sanchez and Humberto Suazo
Keeper Bravo will have to perform better than his opposing counterparts for Chile to have a shot at advancing. Although he allowed in 22 goals during qualifications, he still won 10 matches. It only takes seven wins to become World Champs.
Though Sanchez is a mere 21, he has enough experience at the wing position to set up vital crosses and take on defenders one by one. He’s been playing for the national team since age 17, and in 28 appearances since ’06, he has scored 11 goals.
Suazo led all South Americans in goal scoring during qualifications, racking up an impressive 10. His range is extensive, and he can score in traffic and from some distance outside the box. Defenders will have a tough time with this shifty forward.
Key Matchup: Chile vs. Spain
Points will be critical for Chile. Depending on how they fare against their first two opponents, this final group matchup could be decisive. If La Roja think they can run with the big boys into the knockout stage, they’ll have to prove it against the Spanish all-star team.
Chile has enough talent to sneak into the knockout stage.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown